The local ward elections held in Kerala a few days ago sprung a surprise, when the capital city of the southern state elected a 21-year-old woman to be its Mayor. Arya Rajendran, who represents Mudavanmukal ward in the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, is now the youngest person ever to assume the position of Mayor in India. The decision was formally announced on Sunday, December 27.
(In Kerala, 50 percent of seats are reserved for women in local bodies, and as per the rules, women head civic bodies alternatively. Arya will be appointed to the post of mayor as per the reservation rules.)
Arya is a state committee member of the Students Federation of India (SFI), the students' organisation of the CPI(M). She is also the state president of Balasangam, a children’s organisation affiliated to the CPI(M).
Here are five lesser-known facts about the young leader:
1. Arya’s parents and her older brother are also members of the CPI(M). Arya has stated that her parents encouraged her entry into politics since childhood- starting with being part of Balasangam, and later SFI in college.
2. Arya’s father is an electrician and her mother an LIC agent. She has told the media that her middle-class upbringing has empowered her to relate to the masses, especially as part of a political party which is focused on the working class, farmers, and daily wage labourers.
3. Arya is a student of second-year BSc Mathematics at All Saints College, Thiruvananthapuram. She has said that she has ample support from her teachers and fellow-students at college so that she does not miss out on her classes.
4. Having grown up in a Communist household, Arya’s faith in the political ideology is deep rooted. Arya looks up to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Health Minister K.K.Shailaja as leaders and crisis managers.
5. In her position as Mayor, Arya’s priorities are better waste disposal in the city, as well as providing all essential facilities for school and college students who are now studying from homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, she is also keen on introducing more primary health centres in her Ward.
Arya’s rise to this position has been widely lauded as a move in the right direction for women’s empowerment. Besides the national media, Arya was also congratulated by Malayalam actor Mohanlal who belongs to Thiruvananthapuram, business tycoon Gautam Adani, as well as Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor – who belongs to the Congress Party, which is the CPI(M)’s primary rival in the State.